Winning government grants

Working out which grants your business might be eligible for is a time-consuming task in itself. Here is a breakdown of what is on offer courtesy of Victoria Wiesener, programme manager of investment readiness scheme Gateway2Investment (g2i).

Working out which grants your business might be eligible for is a time-consuming task in itself. Here’s a breakdown of what’s on offer, courtesy of Victoria Wiesener, programme manager of investment readiness scheme Gateway2Investment (g2i).

High-street banks have traditionally played the most important role in providing loans and overdraft facilities to ambitious, growing companies. However, in spite of the government-backed Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme being introduced, banks are still reluctant to lend as freely as before as their exposure is not fully covered. Those businesses that do win funding often find the terms are more onerous and that the amount they are able to raise is not sufficient for their needs.

For these reasons, grants are an increasingly attractive proposition for cash-strapped companies. A grant can be an ideal way to raise cheap money as it typically does not need to be repaid. However, it can be very difficult to access grant funding as each provider has its own requirements and application process, often accompanied by extensive red tape. Once you’ve navigated through the application process, there is also likely to be fierce competition for the funds. In many cases, the terms of the funding may require the company to obtain matching private investment, or sometimes the business may be required to share technical results or intellectual property with the grant provider.

If you decide to seek grant funding, even finding out what grants you may be eligible to apply for can be a time-consuming process. There are many types of grants available – which ones are applicable to you depends on the region, industry or particular area of expertise the grant provider is seeking to promote.

Knowing where to look is key. Companies are advised to use the various grant databases available on the internet, such as Small Business Grants and Grantfinder, to research availability against their particular needs. They can help you identify not just current sources of grants, but also those likely to appear in the next few years.

Here is a guide to the various kinds of grants available:

Regional Grants

– The Selective Finance for Investment and Regional Selective Assistance schemes offer grants for businesses in some areas of East London (and other designated Assisted Areas of the UK). Grants are provided to support companies considering opening a new facility or expanding/modernising an existing facility within the area and is linked to factors such as the number of jobs created and/or safeguarded. To find out more, contact the relevant regional development agency.

– The Finance and support for your business – regional support from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

A complete list of Scottish business grants offering funding provided by the government, local councils and some private organisations.

Specialist areas of expertise

– The Defence and Security Accelerator offers feasibility funding up to £250,000 in any areas with potential defence applications.

– The Carbon Trust Green Business Fund can make funds available to businesses and other organisations working with technologies which have the potential to reduce UK carbon emissions (or provide companies with interest-free loans to install energy-saving equipment)

– Other organisations such as Access to Work help companies fund any extra employment costs that may result from an employee having a disability

Innovation UK, which aim to link up universities with entrepreneurs to promote the commercialisation of research. Healthcare start-ups could also look at the wide array of projects led by the Wellcome Trust

Finally, it is also worth looking into awards schemes such as British Small Business Grants, which reward those who want to turn a small business into a growth business, or nominate your company for a ranking of fast-growing businesses in a national newspaper (such as The Sunday Times). These schemes will also have the additional benefit of valuable PR for the winner, which is a bonus when trying to stand out from the crowd in today’s competitive economical environment.

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